Summary: It’s just one passage, but it has so much to teach us about the Holy Spirit!
Ephesians 4:30 Pentecost 12 B
Rev. Charles Degner August 14, 1994
I knew I would be on vacation most of this week. So the day before I left for vacation, I pulled an old sermon out of the files to use when I got back. I should know better by now. Old sermons are like apples. The ones on the bottom of the barrel are just as well left at the bottom of the barrel.
So I looked at this text again. I prayed about it during the week and meditated on it. As I did, one verse began to jump out at me. It’s this one verse that I would like to share with you this morning. Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."
Do Not Grieve The Holy Spirit of God!
I. If he grieves, he’s a person
We believe and teach that the Holy Spirit is one of the three persons of the Triune God. But do we think of the Holy Spirit in a personal way? There are religions which teach that the Holy Spirit isn’t really a person. The Jehovah’s Witnesses say that the Holy Spirit is nothing more than a force which comes from God, or another name for a special power that comes from God. In the Watchtower literature, you will always see the Holy Spirit spelled with a small s and small p (holy spirit). They refuse to capitalize Holy Spirit because they refuse to believe that the Spirit is a person of the Triune God.
The story I’ve used to teach the truth on this matter is the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. Ananias came to Peter and brought some money he got from selling his posessions. He told Peter this was all his money when in reality he kept half back for himself. Peter said to Ananias, "You have lied to the Holy Spirit." If the Holy Spirit were only an "it" and not a real person, you could not lie to the Holy Spirit. You can’t lie to things. You can’t lie to your baseball glove. You can’t lie to your bicycle. You can’t lie to your car. You can’t lie to things which aren’t alive. In fact, people who talk to their cars and bikes and things are often seen as just a little strange.
You can’t even lie to things which are part of a living thing. It would be foolish to say, "I told my wife’s hands a lie this morning. I told my wife’s hands I would help with the dishes but I didn’t." You can’t lie to somone’s hands. You lie to the person, not to the person’s hands.
So when Peter says that Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit, it proves that the Holy Spirit is not an it, or just a force that comes from God. The Holy Spirit is a person who has feelings and whose feelings can be offended by being lied to.
In our text, Paul treats the Holy Spirit as someone who has feelings. "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." Trees aren’t sad when somone cuts off a limb or two. They don’t cry when squirrels rob them of their acorns. Bicycles don’t cry when they get flat tires. Things don’t grieve. If I cut my finger, my finger might hurt. But it doesn’t grieve. It cannot cry. But if my small child cuts a finger, my child cries! Because my child is a person. And it’s the person that feels pain. It’s the person that grieves. This is another text that proves that the Holy Spirit is a person, because you can grieve the Holy Spirit.
II. If he grieves, he can be hurt
To understand what grieves the Holy Spirit, you have to understand the Holy Spirit’s work. The Holy Spirit takes people who are dead in their sins, people who are blind to the grace of God, and people who are born enemies of God and turns them into the children of God. He does this by bring them to believe that God’s Son, Jesus, gave himself to God as a sweet offering and sacrifice which was completely acceptable to God. His death on the cross covered and paid for every sin.
That does not complete his work, though. Once converted, there’s a lot of house cleaning that needs to be done. Attitudes have to change. Sinful habits need to be broken. Smiles have to be painted on people’s faces. Desires that are sinful need to hit the trash bin and desires that are godly need to be brought in.
Look at it this way. Imagine that you decide to get into the rental property business. You buy an old, run down house that has little or no value. But you know you can make something of that old place. You start by throwing out all the trash the previous owner left behind. Old cabinets are torn out and new ones put in. The old wood floors are sanded down and refinished. Plastered walls are torn out. Insulation put in the walls. Wallboard is put in every room. There’s a clean coat of paint everywhere. You work hard to make this the kind of place that you would be proud to live in! You rent out the house to the first renters and drop by as they move in. You notice three cats and two dogs and wonder about the new carpeting you installed. A week later you start to see the trash pile up on the lawn. Next week a window is broken upstairs. How does it make you feel to see all your sweat and work being destroyed? "Grieving" might be the best way to describe the feeling.